FireChild Compressor: 4 Plugins In 1

Tone Empire shoots its shot with their FireChild compressor that emulates arguably one of the best compressors ever made, the FairChild 670. If you’re looking for a compressor to glue your mix, put a little something on the top or just have access to a lot of functionality than your standard emulation, this will be a good compressor to add to your arsenal.

Quick heads up, please check out the interview with Tone Empire’s CEO, Gaurav Dayal if you missed it.

Brief FairChild History: Why The FairChild Was Loved

The FairChild aka Grandfather of Compressors is known for its buttery smooth sound and was a favorite among many engineers. It sounds great on individual instruments; keyboards, drums buses, and horns and shines during tracking and mixing/mastering sessions. Sometimes the engineer wouldn’t even compress, they’d simply push sound through the unit for its rich character.

Classic FairChild Compressor Grandfather of Compressors

The Fairchild was primarily used as a protective device when cutting vinyl and in live broadcast situations and was the go-to compressor for the taming peaks. At one point, it had the fastest attack values in its class, 0.2 – 0.8 milliseconds. This was of course until Universal Audio’s 1176 (FET Compressor) hit the market and took the crown as the fastest compressor coming in with an attack time of 20 microseconds.

Still to this day, FairChild’s signature sound is sought after by many. The hardware model(s) will cost between $10,000 to $30,000. Would anyone be interested in going in on a group buy?

Luckily, in the digital age, there are some good-sounding, affordable FairChild Compressor plugins on the market.

What Does The FireChild Bring To The Table?

The FireChild compressor plugin offers a mass amount of flexibility with its FairChild emulation, offering 4 compressors in one plugin, a mix knob, and other modern features. Let’s dive into the most important ones.

3 Tube Models, A, B, and C

FireChild offers 3 model types. Each model introduces a combination of distinct saturation and tube coloration. The models were created by sampling real hardware units using various parameters, including but not limited to; compression, volume, and dynamic convolution to help develop and bring forth realism within the emulation.

Firechild Compressor Fairchild Emulation

The 4th and final model deactivates the convolution leaving the user with a transparent (non-tube colored) compressor. Sometimes we as music producers like the characteristics of one compressor such as the speed of the attack and release but may favor the coloration of another compressor or tool.

Having a transparent version of the compressor is highly beneficial in the event that you want to use your own color box to color up the signal.

In addition to this, the Bias feature can be used to provide saturation to all 4 models of the compressor. Meaning, that you can add additional saturation on top of the already provided saturation of models A, B, and C.

This gives you, the user a good amount of flexibility when it comes to shaping tones and your personal sound.

Firechild Compressor by Tone Empire

Quick Production/Mixing Tip:

With all this functionality made available in FireChild, it could be beneficial to utilize automation to switch between the different modes when processing different sections of your song. Sure you can load multiple instances of the compressor, but if you want to save some CPU and you’re only doing a few changes, automation will do the trick. Not only will this let your CPU breathe a bit, but it will also make your music sound more dynamic and interesting with little effort.

 

Try this dynamic shift when coming out of the hook going into the bridge or going from the bridge back into your main section. Yes, it’s a simple tweak, but it makes a big impact when done correctly.

Release Modes

The FireChild sports 6 release modes, all emulated and sampled from FairChild units incorporating various electrical components and tubes. In addition to the release functions, I like the knee control. The knee setting of a compressor allows you to control how hard or soft the compression is, not to be confused with the amount of compression aka the ratio.

 

Production Tip:

When processing hand drums and percussion, I like to use a combination of both hard and soft knee settings. With a hard knee, the impact of the hand striking the skin of a drum sounds really good. Gentle sounds of the wrist, palm, and fingers sliding across the drum skin would benefit from soft knee compression.

Listening To The FireChild: (Use Monitors or Headphones)

Pro Tip For Using The Presets (There are 100+)

Most presets found in mixing tools (like compressors) won’t always be geared toward your genre of choice. What this means is, just because you see a preset titled ‘huge snare‘ or ‘thick ass horn’ doesn’t mean it will make your snare or horn huge or thick sounding.

Chances are the development team was tweaking a completely different snare than the one you’re using the preset on.

To get the most out of the presets, I would strongly advise altering them to fit your needs or mixing directly into them. Very similar to a top-down mixing technique. Not only will you achieve the sound you’re after, but it will help you learn how the compressor works.

Lastly, try the presets on various source sounds blindly. Take the preset meant for a piano and try it on your brass, you might find something you like by mistake. When you you run into these gems, resave the preset with a new name.

Of course, you can make any plugin sound good with the right levels and circumstances, but the convolution modeling being used gives this compressor a little something extra.

Yep, Wrapping It Up

All in all, the FireChild is a nice-sounding compressor. The saturation and modeling are pretty tasty. There are a lot of different options that can be employed when processing sound.

With plugin emulations, I’m looking for something to enhance my sound and make it sound better with very little effort. You shouldn’t have to work very hard to make a plugin work. You should be able to toss it on and hear its magic working immediately.

 

About Author: Greg Savage is a music composer/sound designer and music business mentor with 20+ years of experience. For information on the music business and mentoring please visit https://www.diymusicbiz.com/

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